Conceive in safety
HIV-POSITIVE couples who want to have healthy babies can now go to a recently opened fertility clinic in Sandton, Johannesburg
This specialised lab helps HIV-positive couples who do not have children realise their dream of safe conception.
Fertility expert Dr Merwyn Jacobson said: "As a society, we have come a long way from the fear-ridden perceptions we once had of HIV-Aids when the disease was first discovered.
"With the correct treatment and some responsible lifestyle changes, HIV-positive patients can lead a long and happy life with an average life expectancy. There is no reason why their lifestyles cannot include the joy of raising a family, particularly given that the risk of transmitting the disease to unborn babies has been minimised."
Patients have to go through a series of tests to determine if they qualify for the treatment. With a combination of antiviral therapy, Caesarean section delivery and no breastfeeding, the risks of infants being infected by their mother have been reduced to less than one in 50, Jacobson said.
He said this was in contrast with the 20 to 45 percent chance that an HIV-positive mother would pass the infection to her child without intervention.
In the case of a father being infected and his partner being HIVnegative, his sperm can be washed by separating the seminal fluid that contains most of the cells carrying the virus, from the sperm.
The sperms are then "re-suspended" in a neutral fluid and tested for signs of the virus. If it is clear fertility treatment can begin.
Women undergo gynaecological, thyroid, rubella and blood group investigations prior to being approved for treatment.
Jacobson said: "While strict criteria are in place to protect the parents and the life of the unborn child, our ambition is to enable infected couples to conceive safely with minimal risk of cross-infection."